Last Friday I was at school and heading to a class when Doamna Angela, a 3rd grade teacher, approached me and asked if I was busy that afternoon and evening. Doamna Angela and her husband, Alexandru, run the traditional music and dance school in our village. I told her I didn’t have plans and she asked me if I had my camera with me (I did). “Perfect!” she said, “Will you come with the dance ensemble to a competition in Chisinau and film it?” I absolutely love the rare opportunities to watch the dance ensemble, made up of about 20 8th through 9th grade students I teach at school, so I immediately said yes.
I’ll be honest- I really didn’t know any details when I said yes except that we would be leaving right after my class and that it was in Chisinau. On the bus on the way to Chisinau, Angela and Alexandru said that we were going to a festival and competition called Constellation of Talents and that it was an international talent competition. My students didn’t end up performing until almost 10 in the evening (the video above), but I got to hang out with the group until then and watch the rest of the concert and competition. There were at least 13 countries represented, mostly from Eastern Europe but also from Vietnam and a group from an African country.
There were various categories including modern dance, traditional dance, singing, verbal art (poetry), and modelling. Our group was competing in the traditional dance category. Groups that the judges felt did a good job on the first and second days of the competition were called back to compete in the final round on Sunday. My students did a fantastic job on Friday, and though I didn’t accompany them, were called back on Sunday, and won grand prize!! They also received invitations to two other international competitions, one in Romania, and one in Bulgaria. My students were so excited to tell me that they had won when I saw them in class on Monday! They work incredibly hard and are so incredibly talented! I am so proud of them!
Last week, our school celebrated Youth Day. The Student Council made a video and put together an hour-long performance for the 8th and 9th grade students. I was really impressed by how quickly they put everything together and learned the dances and songs!
There was a mix of some songs, dances, and one big musical skit. Most of the performances were humorous and they did a great job! After, there was a short dance for the 8th and 9th graders.
October 5 is International Teacher’s Day, and here in Moldova it’s a very big holiday (read about last year’s celebration here). At our school, we started the day off with a short assembly outside in the school’s courtyard. One student from each class presented their wishes for the teachers and thanked them for the work they do.
On Thursdays, my partner Liuba and I teach our younger students in 2nd through 3rd grade. One of the Moldovan traditions for Teacher’s Day is for older students to teach some of the lessons throughout the day instead of the teachers.
For our two 3rd grade classes, two girls, one in 8th grade and one in 9th grade, taught our lessons. We sat in the back and helped a little as needed. The 3rd graders were very excited to have older students teach the class and the two “teachers” did a good job.
During our classes, some of the students gave us flowers and other prepared small speeches to thank us. According to one of my 4th grade boys, I am very pretty and they like to have lessons with me very much because I never yell at them.
After lessons, some of the teachers went to our raion center for a big concert and ceremony, but I didn’t join them. On Friday, the 8th graders prepared a concert for us, with poems, songs, and even a skit. Then, that evening, all of the teachers went to a larger nearby town to have a really nice party at a restaurant. We ate, drank, and danced for several hours. It was a really nice celebration and everyone seemed to have a very nice time.
Last Thursday, September 21st, was International Day of Peace, a holiday celebrated around the world. The holiday was established by the UN in 1981 and is devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples”(1). The 2017 theme was “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All”(2).
*The following photos are what the students at our school wrote in response to “What does peace mean?”
Many Peace Corps volunteers around the globe do various activities to celebrate the holiday in their communities and workplaces. My site mate, Amir, and I organized some simple activities to commemorate the day in our school.
After a short assembly with students in 5th through 9th grade, where some 9th grade students read some information about the holiday and this year’s theme, we gathered all of the students and some of the teachers in the courtyard in front of our school. The students formed the shape of a peace sign, which most of the students but few of the teachers were familiar with.
After, during the breaks throughout the day, students wrote what peace means to them on whiteboards and posed for pictures.
It was the first time our school had done something to note the holiday, and the students and teachers alike were interested to learn more (at first, many of the teachers thought it was International Peace Corps Day!).